It’s a gamble and we lose.
The origin story for the G.I. Joe character, “Snake Eyes,” has more action and fights than a story. So much slicing, kicking, and punching goes on, that it’s often difficult to comprehend what the villains want. You have to rely on one-liners and situations to tell the story, and that’s exhausting.
Henry Golding is one of the hottest next generation actors, who’s earned our attention with “Crazy Rich Asians,” “A Simple Favor,” “Last Christmas,” and “The Gentlemen,” takes on the lead role of Snake Eyes, and he does a good job. He has more depth and humanity than either director Robert Schwentke (in his first entry since “The Captain”) or screenplay writer Evan Spiliotopoulos (the 2017 “Beauty and the Beast”) could provide in the narrative.
The story involves Snake Eyes wanting revenge on the men who murdered his father, and then saving the life of the warrior Tommy (Andrew Koji), later known as Storm Shadow, who welcomes him to his ninja clan-the Arashikage. As much as his head of security Akiko (Haruka Abe) thinks it’s a risk to welcome him, he saw something in the stranger’s eyes. She’s probably right since he had to work for the bad guy Kenta (Takehiro Hira) and his superior Baroness (Ursula Corbero), who both hold his father’s murderer.
Snake Eyes isn’t the bad guy since he was reluctantly roped into their games, and their terrorist organization, known as Cobra, is bent to stealing a powerful red jewel from the clan. Kenta wants revenge on the clan, while Baroness has other intentions. At least I think so, because plans change. How did we miss that?
And during the final battle, Samara Weaving comes in as the G.I. Joe Scarlett O’Hara (“Gone With the Wind”), who knows how to handle her bad guys. Given her underwritten and underdeveloped nature, “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” I think this actress is fresh and amazing, but I wanted more out of her than just a name in the credits.
In the middle of the introduction and final battle, to prove his loyalty to the clan. Snake Eyes is given three tests: switch the bowls with the Hard Master (Iko Uwais) without spilling the water, find his weakness, and deal with giant snakes who detect his personality. Just now, I’ve reviewed a French comedy called “Mandibles,” which was about a giant fly, and now I’m glad that both these movies don’t use giant spiders. Well, duh, it’s call “Snake Eyes.”
And about the name Snake Eyes, his father was murdered based on a pair of loaded dice that lands on the snake eyes. They wanted him dead for a reason. Why? Snake Eyes has to learn the hard way to find out.
They might be making money at the box office, but so far, I’m not really seeing a summer of blockbusters. There was “F9,” “Black Widow,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” and now, “Snake Eyes.” They don’t speak to me the way their studios wanted me to; in fact, they’re all missed opportunities. That or they’re just cash grabs. Make sense for either.
With “Snake Eyes,” it’s supposed to be a marketing campaign, after all, the G.I. Joes are a toy franchise that sparked two live action films back in 2009 and 2013. If Michael Bay directed this, it would have been a complete bomb. But it isn’t that terrible. I liked the performances from Golding, Koji, and Uwais, because of how they thrive and how their acting shakes things up. There are some entertaining fights, and I love how the Cobra soldiers run and scream before our heroes can slice them.
The movie is rated PG-13, unlike last April’s “Mortal Kombat,” so I suppose we can do without the blood and carnage. It’s more of an easy-in-easy-out kind of deal. Same stuff we’ve seen done before and we’ll continue seeing. Hopefully, the next chap in Hollywood can do it right.